|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang's Regular Press Conference on July 12, 2016|
Q: We are all concerned about the attack on Chinese peacekeepers in South Sudan. Can you update us on that?
A: Two Chinese peacekeepers were killed, two heavily injured and three slightly injured in the attack at the premises of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The Chinese side strongly condemns the attack on UN peacekeepers.
The Chinese government attaches high importance to this. The Chinese Foreign Ministry immediately mobilized resources to treat and transfer the injured. Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming has summoned the Ambassador of South Sudan to China, lodging solemn representations about the attack which led to death and injuries of Chinese peacekeepers, and urging the government of South Sudan to offer all necessary security and logistic support, cooperate with China to deal with all the follow-up matters, help with the treatment and transfer of the injured and ensure the safety of Chinese nationals in South Sudan. The Foreign Ministry is also in close communication with the Chinese military, asking the relevant diplomatic missions to immediately reach out to the United Nations and the warring parties of South Sudan, in a bid to secure favorable conditions for the treatment and transfer of the injured. I believe you have all noted the Security Council press statement and the statement by the UN Secretary-General. Taking seriously the treatment of Chinese injured, the UN is active in cooperating with and supporting us. The injured Chinese peacekeepers have been safely transferred to a relatively better hospital from the premises of UNMISS.
Q: The Arbitral Tribunal in the South China Sea arbitration said it is going to give an advanced copy of the ruling to the claimants, presumably the Philippines and some of the observer countries. I know China had said it would not participate in this case. But will you also be receiving a copy of the ruling ahead of time? If so, how will it be given to you? Will it be given physically to the Chinese Embassy in the Netherlands or will it be e-mailed to you?
A: You are absolutely right about China's position. We have been saying from the very beginning that we do not recognize, nor participate in the arbitration. Therefore, there isn't any connection between us and the illegal arbitral tribunal in terms of judicial procedures that could possibly generate any legal consequence. We will not accept whatever material it is going to provide.
Q: The ruling of the South China Sea arbitration case unilaterally initiated by the Philippine side will come out today. How do you view this ruling? How will it impact peace and stability in the South China Sea? What steps will China take next?
A: As I told the Reuters today, and the New York Times yesterday, regarding this so-called Arbitral Tribunal unilaterally produced by the previous government of the Philippines, our position was made clear three years ago, and there should be nothing new about this.
This so-called Arbitral Tribunal was born out of the unlawful behavior and illegal claims of the Philippines. Its existence is illegal, and whatever ruling it makes is null and void, with no binding force.
As to the impact you were talking about, if there is any, I want to say that first, if it heightens confrontation and escalates tensions in the region, such negative impacts are obviously against regional peace and stability. Second, I cannot see how this ruling will affect China's established policy, since with it or not, China's long-standing policy of safeguarding its sovereignty and security interests will not change. China believes in the dual-track approach proposed by the ASEAN countries which pursues in tandem the settlement of relevant disputes by parties directly concerned through direct dialogue and the maintenance of regional peace and stability by China and ASEAN countries altogether. If anyone dares to take provocative actions and challenge China's interests, China will react decisively. This determination will not waver, ruling or no ruling.
Q: After the ruling of the arbitration comes out today, will China seek dialogue with the Philippines? Will China make it conditional?
A: First of all, for a very long time, China and the Philippines were on good terms, so do our two peoples. However, in recent years, due to reasons known to all, our bilateral relationship has met some difficulties. On our part, we always want to sustain our friendly relationship with our neighbors, including the Philippines for win-win outcomes and jointly maintain regional peace and stability. We also noted that the new Philippine government had expressed its willingness to resume bilateral dialogue, pursue common development, and well manage disputes with China after it took office. Of course, our door is open to such proposals.
Q: The conflicting parties in South Sudan announced a ceasefire yesterday. What is your comment?
A: China hopes that the conflicting parties in South Sudan can earnestly enforce and stick to the ceasefire and cessation of violence, faithfully implement the peace agreement, and restore peace and stability to South Sudan at an early date.
Q: UK Home Secretary Theresa May will become the Prime Minister on July 13. What is your comment?
A: We have noted relevant reports. China sets great score by China-UK relationship. Following the principle of mutual respect and mutual benefit, we and would like to work with the new British government to deepen political mutual trust, enhance all-around practical cooperation and make greater strides in developing bilateral relationship in the "golden era".
Q: You said that China will not accept the advanced copy of the ruling, then will China make a response when the ruling of the arbitration is officially issued?
A: As I told the Reuters reporter, we will not have any legal connection with it since we do not recognize this illegal organ from the very beginning.
Q: EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in Beijing that China needs to further level its playing field for the China-EU investment agreement, and EU enterprises are still concerned about the business environment in China. What is your response?
A: We have noted her remarks. In fact, over the past 38 years of reform and opening-up, the Chinese government has set up step by step a well-functioning market mechanism and system and has been working constantly to improve it. These efforts and achievements are open for all to see. Whether the environment for foreign investment in China is good or not, the market and numbers speak the loudest. From January to April, 2016, 8,298 foreign-invested enterprises have been set up in China, a year-on-year increase of 6.5%. Among them, 555 are established by 28 EU countries, a year-on-year increase of 5.1%. Businessmen from the EU have shown with their own actions that China is still a hotly contested land for world and EU investment.
I want to stress here that China's policy on utilizing foreign investment, creating a favorable environment for foreign-invested enterprises, and protecting the legitimate rights and interests of foreign-invested enterprises is subject to no change. China's economy enjoys great potential for growth and is highly resilient. We would like to continue to share our development dividends with others and achieve win-win results.
Q: What we hear from the US is that it regards itself as a guardian of maritime rule of law and keeps asking other countries to obey international law. But what we see from the US is that it condones illegal behaviors of itself and its so-called allies and has been turning a blind eye to its allies' long-time illegal occupation of China's islands and reefs. What is your comment?
A: That is a good question. Before the "Rebalance to Asia" strategy kicked in, the South China Sea and this region was very calm and peaceful. Then, when the Americans came along with the rebalance stuff, things changed. I never deny the existence of disputes in this region and differences between relevant countries before this strategy. But in general, regional countries managed to maintain peace, stability and security. Whatever excuses it may give, the fact is that the "Rebalance to Asia" strategy pursued by the US changed the situation on the ground.
How can a guardian of maritime rule of law refuse to ratify UNCLOS 34 years after the convention came into being? How can it keep asking other countries to accept third-party dispute settlement while evading and even refusing to acknowledge the ruling and order of the International Court of Justice which is the most important judicial organ of the UN (check the precedents of international law if interested)? Such an opportunistic approach of holding high international law when it sees fit and discarding international law when it sees otherwise will erode the authority, sanctity and efficacy of the law. This is very dangerous and should put the international community on high alert.
Q: Vietnam reportedly accused Chinese Coast Guard vessels of sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat in waters near Vietnam last Saturday. What is your comment?
A: At around 7 p.m., July 9, China Maritime Search and Rescue Center was notified by its Vietnamese counterpart, saying that a Vietnamese fishing boat sunk 55 nautical miles to the southeast of Yongxing Dao in the South China Sea. All 5 fishermen on board fell into the water. Rescue assistance was requested. After receiving the notification, China immediately mobilized "South China Sea Rescue 118" and "China Coast Guard 45102" to the site to assist with the rescue, and broadcast navigation warning, cautioning vessels passing by to be on watch and offer timely help. It is learnt that all the fishermen have been rescued.
Follow-up: Is China aware of the reason for the sinking?
A: I have already told you all I know.
Q: My understanding is that whether China likes it or not, the Arbitral Tribunal will email a copy of its ruling in advance. Does China have a public email account to receive the copy?
A: I have said many times that since we do not acknowledge this illegal organ, we will not have any legal or judicial relationship with it. It is futile and meaningless for relevant party to try to make such a relationship happen.
Q: Chinese media reports said that China might consider quitting UNCLOS if the award goes against China's interests. What is your comment on that?
A: I don't know where you got that information. What I can say is that ever since we approved UNCLOS in 1996, we have been faithfully implementing and upholding the Convention. China always stresses that all parties must implement UNCLOS in its entirety and in an accurate manner, instead of making selective use of it, or even breach it to serve one's own need like some specific countries did.